AKO Army Knowledge

In late March 1972 the People's Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) launched one of the largest offensive operations in recent history against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the United States military.

The Easter Offensive was the largest offensive military operation since 300,000 Chinese crossed the Yalu River during the Korean War. While the US and ARVN expected an attack during 1972, they were not expecting one of such magnitude; many offensives by the North Vietnamese (such as the Tet Offensive) involved guerrilla tactics and did not use conventional assets, such as armored vehicles and artillery support.

Shortly after noon on March 30, over 30,000 PAVN and 100 tanks rolled into South Vietnam from the north, and a few days later from the west, hoping to cut South Vietnam in two. Although planned to take place during monsoon season (where low clouds would have made US air support difficult), by April and May the weather was beginning to clear up - between May 1 and June 30, over 18,000 air sorties had been flown in support of the ground campaign.

By mid-June the US and ARVN forces were in a strong enough position to counter the assault from the north, while they were able to recapture some lost ground, by mid-September they were to exhausted to continue. While both sides claimed victory, the PAVN has sustained over 100,000 casualties and lost almost all of its tanks in return for parts of the northernmost provinces as well as the western flank of some norther provinces.

This offensive, while costly did bring both sides to make concessions during peace negotiations, however, which were finalized in January, 1973.


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